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Andy Behrens

Closing Time: Ibanez defends, Madson saves, De La Rosa wins

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Let's begin with a virtual fist pound for Jerod Morris of Midwest Sports Fans, the blogger involved in today's Raul Ibanez non-story.

On Monday, Morris wrote a long fantasy post in which he examined Ibanez's 2009 home run binge. It was thorough. He discussed park dimensions, lineups and the quality of opposing pitching. He gave the post a semi-incendiary headline and he addressed the fact that today -- unless you're a complete fool -- you sometimes think of PEDs when a player gets unusually hot at an odd point in the career arc. There were no accusations. It was basically the same thing Rick Telander did with Ryan Theriot(notes), except with data.

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer's John Gonzalez hopped on a soapbox: "Until there's proof to the contrary, shouldn't all of us -- from the traditional mainstream media to bloggers -- be judicious about calling people cheaters?" Indeed we should. But Morris didn't call Ibanez a cheater.

This afternoon, Morris found himself in a ridiculous situation. He was asked to appear on "Outside The Lines" to defend a position that wasn't quite his, debating both Gonzalez and a didactic national columnist who didn't seem like he'd read Morris' piece. Video here. Morris did well. (ESPN gave him no makeup to reduce glare, which is kinda bush league). Hopefully it was a good day traffic-wise for MSF.

Ibanez has handled this thing superbly, by the way. Not quite as well as Daulerio dealt with it, but superbly nonetheless. Until tonight's 1-for-5.

Time for bulleted content...

Ryan Madson(notes) pitched a clean 11th inning against the Mets (three batters, three grounders), earning his first save since Brad Lidge(notes) hit the DL with knee spraining/inflammation. Jayson Werth's(notes) excellent catch made it all possible. There's no specific timetable on Lidge's DL stay just yet, and there's not much detail on the injury itself, either.

Jorge De La Rosa(notes) delivered a useful six-inning line on Wednesday against the Brewers: 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, W. The lefty threw just 59 of his 102 pitches for strikes, but streamers don't care about that. You dropped him 14 hours ago.

De La Rosa is at the other end of the ERA/FIP list that we mentioned earlier today. His FIP is 3.81, but his current ERA is 5.08. De La Rosa entered Wednesday's start with a .327 batting average on balls in play, so he hasn't exactly been lucky. Still, more strike-throwing couldn't hurt. He's got a dicey two-start week at home ahead of him (vs. TB, vs. PIT).

The 51 percent-owned Jose Lopez(notes) (3-for-4, 2 HR) provided all the offense that Felix Hernandez(notes) needed against the Wieterses in Baltimore.

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David Weathers(notes) earned a rogue save for the Reds, as Francisco Cordero(notes) couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in a rain-interrupted ninth. That was Cordero's first blown save of the year; he pitched before and after the two-hour rain delay. Dusty Baker told the AP, "[Cordero] said he felt great. That's similar to your closer throwing both ends of a doubleheader. He didn't throw that much."

A few dozen heroic fans (pictured right) stuck around to watch the final innings. Mike MacDougal(notes) threw a pair of useful innings (2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K).

As threatened, Jhonny Peralta(notes) returned to the Cleveland lineup, batting seventh. He went 1-for-3, which was a great showing considering the line that Gil Meche(notes) put up: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 K. Like De La Rosa, Meche is at the other end of the ERA/FIP chart.

Dan Wheeler(notes) got the final two outs in a 9-5 Rays win, cementing his position as someone who never gets a save, ever.

The Bucs called up Charlie Morton(notes) to pitch against his former employer, but he left after an inning of work with a hamstring strain. The Pirates still managed to win, thanks to 4.2 K-less innings from Jeff Karstens(notes). Matt Capps(notes) earned save No. 14, though he gave up a home run and a pair of deep flies.

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Chien-Ming Wang(notes) had another terrible line, yet he again managed to lower his ERA. It's now 14.34. Phil Hughes(notes) relieved him, striking out five in 3.2 innings. He allowed a two-run opposite-field shot to Kevin Youkilis(notes), though.

If Hughes gets the next start, it's likely to be useful for fantasy purposes. The Yanks have upcoming interleague series with the Nats and Marlins.

Joe Girardi isn't willing to discuss the Wang/Hughes dilemma just yet:

"I'm not ready to make that decision right now," the Yankees manager said. " . . . I'll sleep on it. In five days, somebody will be out there."

Wang himself was more forthcoming:

Asked how he would feel if the Yankees lifted him from their rotation, he responded, "Because I'm not pitching good, I would understand."

Seems like dizziness is the new oblique. First Chipper, then Denard Span, now Jorge Cantu. His situation seems manageable, though:

"It's just dizziness. It's from the medication that I stopped taking two nights ago for the cholesterol," Cantu said. "I experienced those symptoms before in the past and it's just a bad idea to take it during the season obviously."

Chad Qualls(notes) pitched another rocky inning (3 H, 1 ER, 0 K) in a non-save situation. Recall that his forearm discomfort is not "something that's going to just heal overnight." Tony Pena(notes) is the handcuff.

Apparently a visit to the AL West is all Francisco Liriano(notes) really needed. He struck out seven A's in a six-inning no-decision. And yeah, consecutive no-decisions seems like progress. He'll get an unintimidating two-start week against Pittsburgh and Houston during interleague play.

Andrew Bailey(notes) took the loss for Oakland on Wednesday, and it wasn't pretty:

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That's three hits, two walks and two WPs. Bailey threw 24 pitches. He's appeared in three of the A's past four games, and he's up to 38.1 innings for the year.


Photos via Getty Images

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